2 Corinthians 8:10-15
And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.…
I. TO WILL.
1. Charity must be voluntary. No one can make us will. We can be made to give, but such giving is morally worthless. God loveth a cheerful giver, because a cheerful giver is in all certainty a voluntary giver. The "voluntary system" is not one form of charity; it is the only form. Unless we willingly give, the less said about our charity the better; for we have none!
2. The "willing must be rightly prompted. True charity means heart love. The coin is base unless it bears this stamp. Though it may pass current amongst men, God will arrest and condemn it. Motives in giving should be carefully studied; not others' motives, but ours!
II. TO DO. Some are charitable in intention, not in action. Fruit trees are sometimes destitute of fruit, but to those thus symbolized there is but little encouragement in the fate of that barren tree which confronted Christ as he walked from Bethany to Jerusalem. Charity must be spiritual, but it must be practical also. Our love will never feed' the hungry nor clothe the naked; and if our love does not prompt us to do, it is of less value than a mote in the sunbeam. Faith without works is dead, and charity without works is dead, buried, and rotting in its grave.
III. TO GIVE ACCORDING TO OUR ABILITY. (Ver. 12.) Not according to what others give. We are apt to give according to the ability of somebody else. Perhaps when we judge of our own ability we had better ask God to help us. There are two occasions when a man's possessions are apt to dwindle - the one when he makes out his income tax return, and the other when he is asked for a subscription. We need much grace rightly to estimate our own resources. Charitable appeals are apt to derange the laws of arithmetic and to lead to astonishing results.
IV. TO GIVE JUDICIOUSLY.
1. The needs of any case should be carefully considered. Not to make them less than they are, but to know them as they are. To give to undeserving cases is not only to waste our substance, but to do a vast amount of mischief.
2. We are not required to impoverish ourselves that others may be enriched. (Ver. 13.) Though, if we had tendencies in this direction, perhaps we should not be travelling away from our Master's example (ver. 9). Our danger probably lies in being content with the impoverished condition of others. But the object of charity is not that the poor should be made rich and the rich poor.
3. An equality is to be aimed at. (Ver. 14.) As to believers especially we should remember that they are members of the same faith, and should seek to make their condition equally healthy with our own. But our charity should not be restricted by the limits of the household of faith." One has well said, "Our luxuries should yield to our neighbour's comforts, and our comforts to his necessities." This seems Paul's conception, who explains what he means by "equality in the expression following: Your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want" (ver. 14); and he illustrates it by reference to the manna given to Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16:18). How far from approach to this equality is the giving of many!
4. We must not so give as to check the exertions of those whom we help. Paul does not apprehend that so undesirable a result will follow the charity which he recommends; he anticipates that the poor may become so rich as to help those now helping them. Unwise charity hinders, not helps, the recipient, Pauperism is a poor harvest to reap. Still we must see that this argument is not unduly pressed. It is to be a protector, it is not to be a murderer, of charity. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.